On Tuesday night skies got a little bit darker for Kentucky Wildcat fans when star player Nerlens Noel went down in excruciating pain holding his left knee. An MRI taken on Wednesday morning in Lexington, Ky. showed what fans feared, Noel has a torn ACL.
Noel, according to a Kentucky media release, will be out for the season and will have surgery in the next two-three week. An ACL injury usually take six to eight months to heal.
Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!I love you all and can’t thank y’all enough for the prayers.
— Nerlens Noel (@NerlensNoel3) February 13, 2013
As hard as this is to hear for Kentucky fans, the Wildcats have another talent at the center position in freshman Willie Cauley-Stein. Out of high school, he didn’t get as much attention as Noel, but the 7’0″ athlete has amazing abilities and gives the Wildcats a lot of energy. Cauley-Stein is recovering from his own knee injury, but seems to be close to 100 percent. He is averaging 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 20 minutes per game this season. Sometimes in adversity players step up, Cauley-Stein has all the characteristics to be that special player at the end of this season for Kentucky.
And one minor positive,Willie Cauley-Stein now has a great opportunity to show he is one of the better centers in the nation.Can he respond?
— T.J. Walker (@TWalkerRivals) February 13, 2013
The question remains if Noel will return to Kentucky or will he count his losses and jump to the NBA draft. You would think he wouldn’t want to risk more money, but who knows at this point–probably not even Noel.
Cauley-Stein will get to show if he can step up Saturday at 1pm (EST) when Kentucky plays on the road against rivals Tennessee.
Follow Jon Hancock on Twitter